K. A. Bedford
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Kenneth Adrian Bedford (born 1963), better known under the pseudonym of K. A. Bedford, is an Australian writer of science fiction.
Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait (2008)
- All page numbers are from the trade paperback first edition published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing ISBN 978-1-894063-42-5
- Nominated for the 2008 Philip K. Dick Award.
- Maybe he was crazy, he thought. It would explain everything. Insanity was good that way.
- Chapter 7 (p. 80)
- He swore, pissed off, trying to keep the past in the past instead of stinking up the present.
- Chapter 11 (p. 130)
- The future was not what it used to be.
- Chapter 13 (p. 156)
- He felt a trickle of cold fear in the depths of his belly, a dread that he was going to get his wish.
- Chapter 13 (p. 159)
- It was hard to just sit and relax. Everyone he saw somehow looked suspicious, especially all those people who appeared perfectly innocuous: nobody who looked that innocuous could be anything but guilty, Spider thought.
- Chapter 17 (p. 200)
- The coffee, when he tried it, was strong almost to the point of being unbearable, but not quite. In short, it was divine.
- Chapter 18 (p. 209)
- “So what is this Final Secret? Any Ideas?” Spider asked, trying to sound reasonable.
“We don’t know. We just don’t know. All we know is what the Vores have communicated to us so far.”
“Right,” Spider said, nodding, hating every moment of this nonsense. “And when you say ‘we’ and ‘us’, what you really mean is ‘you’, yes?”
“They communicate through a living channel, yes, and that is, of course, me.”
- Chapter 18 (p. 219)
- To change the subject, he said, “I’ve been thinking a lot.”
“Yeah,” he said, trying not to fidget, a weird feeling in his head. “I reckon free will is bullshit.”
“You need to get some sleep, Spider.”
“No, no, I feel okay, more or less.”
“Free will,” she said, shaking her head.
“It’s an illusion. That’s all it is. Everything is already sorted out, every decision, every possibility, it’s all determined, scripted, whatever.”
Iris was looking at him as if she was worried. “Where’d all this come from?”
“I’ve been to the End of bloody Time, Iris. From that perspective, everything is done and settled. Basically, everything that could happen has happened. It’s all mapped out, documented, diagrammed, written up in great big books, and ignored.”
“You’re a crazy bastard, you know that, Spider?”
“Maybe not crazy enough,” he said.
Iris was still struggling for traction on the conversation. “You think everything is predetermined? Is that it? But what about—”
“No. You just think you have free will.”
“So, according to you,” Iris said, looking bewildered, “a guy who kills his wife was always going to kill her. She was always going to die.”
“From his point of view, he doesn’t know that, and neither does she, but yeah. She was always a goner, so to speak.”
“There is no way I can accept this,” she said. “It’s intolerable. It robs individual people of moral agency. According to you nobody chooses to do anything; they’re just following a script. That means nobody’s responsible for anything.”
“I said free will is an illusion. We think we’ve got moral agency, we think we make choices. It’s a perfect illusion. It just depends on your point of view.”
“It’s a bloody pathway to madness, I reckon,” Iris said.
“I dunno,” he said. “Right now, sitting here, thinking about everything, I think it makes a lot of sense. Kinda, anyway.”
“Think you’ll find that’s just an illusion,” she said, and flashed a tiny smile.
- Chapter 22 (pp. 271-272)
- You up for it, or am I going in again? Please note, by the way, there is only one correct answer to this question.
- Chapter 23 (p. 284)
Paradox Resolution (2012)
- All page numbers are from the trade paperback first edition published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing ISBN 978-1-894063-88-3
- It was a hard thing to contemplate, even harder to accept, the inevitable tide of technological progress, which even as it created careers for some, also destroyed careers for others.
- Chapter 5 (pp. 34-35)
- He’d lived with a mad sculptress for long enough that he knew (believed, really) that much of what passed for art these days was bullshit, all naked emperors and nobody commenting on it. In any case, as soon as he registered, “ah, sculpture”, he lost interest and looked away.
- Chapter 6 (p. 38)
- “But that...” Spider paused, “is a fine piece of movie magic.” From a time when movies were magic, the last days of the old Hollywood studio system. These days if a film called for a prop like that, it would most likely be rendered digitally; if it had to exist in the real world at all, it could be whomped up in a 3D printer, sintered from various powders, fused together with lasers—and utterly disposable, like most of the films that came along these days. Nobody would preserve such a thing; nobody would see the point in keeping and restoring such props. It was a sad thing, at least for people Spider’s age, who remembered better times.
- Chapter 6 (p. 41)
- And in that moment, Spider noticed a strange thing. He found to his surprise that he did not dislike Mr. Patel. Which, obviously, was a long way from liking the man, but who knew? Maybe that would come in time.
- Chapter 6 (p. 41)
- The thing Spider hated about time machines was that people got them, thinking they could fix everything that had gone wrong in their lives. Thinking they could go back and make amends for things they wished they’d not done. Thinking they could save loved ones from terrible fates, or magically improve their love lives. Too many people thought of time machines as magical “Get out of Personal Responsibility Free” devices. In times past, if you did something rotten, or hurt someone you loved, or didn’t do so well with the ladies, you tried to learn from it, and maybe become a better person in the future. Now people who’d done those sorts of things—and worse—simply figured, Oh well, I’ll jump in my time machine, and fix it. Which was fine, but in ninety-eight percent of such cases, time machine operators succeeded only in making their situations worse.
- Chapter 6 (p. 42)
- The great majority of them came back a week later, complaining that it was all Spider’s fault. Yes, he thought, it was his fault. It was his fault for trying to help idiots.
- Chapter 6 (p. 42)
- “Spider, please, sit. I will explain everything.”
“You’ll explain everything. Fine. Great!” Spider said, but inside, in his mind, he was thinking, Bag and cat have now parted company.
- Chapter 6 (p. 47)
- Spider had to keep that firmly in his mind. It was a lesson he had learned on the job: things are not always as they seem. Sometimes, even most times, they are far stranger than you’d imagine, and most likely more perverse than you’d care to consider.
- Chapter 8 (p. 61)
- “Okay, then,” Spider said. “I have the D6. I have the wicked power of pseudo-random number generation right here in my hot little hand.”
- Chapter 11 (p. 102)
- “When Dickhead was a little kid, he had this, hmm, ‘religious experience’, I suppose you’d call it. For all we know his little wee brain might just have had a stroke or some damn thing. Upshot, though, was he thought an actual angel appeared before him, and told him all kinds of neat but apocalyptic stuff about the universe, about God’s decision to start over, and that only the very few, the Chosen, could be part of it, and thus find out about the Final Secret of the Cosmos.”
“But that’s bullshit, surely.”
- Chapter 14 (p. 138)
- “The bloody future,” Spider muttered. “What’s it ever done for us?”
- Chapter 17 (p. 172)
- “Spider!” Mr. Patel said, coming up to him, taking his hand, pumping it hard. “You’re a hard man to find!”
“Evidently not hard enough.”
- Chapter 17 (p. 175)
- You going somewhere with this, Spider, or can we just take it as read that you’re a bit cranky today?
- Chapter 20 (p. 218)
- “What about your art?”...
“I gave it up.”
“Gave it up? How could you give it up?” He was shaken at the news. Molly no longer an artist? He didn’t know artists could even do that; he thought it was a lifetime thing, like a sentence.
- Chapter 21 (p. 230; ellipsis represents a minor elision of description)